From time to time I get to talk to people who I genuinely admire and turn to for advice and debate the latest news with. Up till now, I’ve always said I’d post some of these talks to SLR, and they’ve always given me permission to, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.

That changes today (and hopefully it continues to be that way).

I’ve decided to launch a new series of columns that I’m calling “Sitting on the advice of giants,”
because thus far, that’s what I’ve been doing with these nuggets of gold, but today I’m sharing some of the wisdom I’ve been imparted from Sol Neelman.

I only met Sol a few months ago, completely by chance come to think of it, but in the short time I’ve known him he’s always been quick to lend an ear, look at my work, give feedback and just talk about anything whenever.

And when it comes to his advice, he’s frank, honest, from the heart and a straight talker. Exactly the type of real speak you sometimes need.

On portfolios:
I think putting together a portfolio is one of the greater challenges out there for a photographer. I’m lucky to have some talented friends help me – they make me look smarter than I really am! Don’t ever make excuses about your work when showing it to someone else. Hold your head high and realize that not everyone is going to get or like what you’re trying to say. But don’t let that stop you.

When something strikes a cord of truth with you, embrace it.

On taking chances:
The thing for me: experience is key, regardless of where it’s at. You’re not getting married, just moving for a few months. If you don’t have anything else going on, jump on it.

Also, always follow your instincts. They usually hold the answers for you.
On internships:

Forget the idea that you need “big-name” internships. Anyone with half a brain will tell you that you’ll get more out of the smaller market papers than a major metro, where you’ll get lost in the shuffle.

On schmoozing:
I’m not good at schmoozing, either. But after awhile, you realize we’re all peers, only at different stages in our career. Everyone has been in your shoes. And if they can’t remember that, then forget them!

On having fun with photo:

Just look at his piece from the 2007 a Photo a Day meet up and remember why we got into this field in the first place. It’s a “fun, inspirational weekend – minus the egos and b.s.” and the core of what photography is about when you take the pictures for yourself and only yourself.

That’s it, the first installment is in the books, and I hope you’ve found Sol’s advice as helpful as I have.

I’ll have some more coming in the future, just have to make sure I have permission to share publicly the private conversations I’ve had.

Stay tuned.